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The Role of the Japanese Diet in Promoting Defense Transparency

March 01, 2012
Jeffrey Kwong

Policy Brief

While it is clear that Japan’s legislative body, the Diet, is empowered in budgeting and oversight mechanisms, there is no consensus on whether the Diet wields actual power in influencing defense policy and whether the Diet’s role in defense policy approaches that of other democratic legislative systems. In this policy brief, we first outline the substantial budgetary and oversight responsibilities carried out by the Diet’s ruling coalition. Second, we suggest a framework to strengthen the role of the Diet in improving defense transparency. In particular, we look at the coalitional nature of Japanese party politics, changing ideologies in the midst of constant party renaming and reorganization, and the lack of party defense policy platforms. We also examine the relationship of Diet members to two important actors in Japanese politics: 1) the media; and 2) the ruling coalition; in particular, the Diet’s relationship to the Prime Minister.

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